Distributed Biobanking: An End to End Solution for FFPE Tissue Block Management

The process of formalin-fixed paraffin-embedding (FFPE) emerged in the late 19th century as a valuable histological method for stabilizing and preserving the morphology and cellular details of tissue samples. Additional advantages of preserving  tissues using the FFPE technique included long term room temperature storage without fear of degradation, and if tissues were correctly preserved, FFPE blocks could be used over decades to prepare additional slides for microscopic analysis (as long as there was remaining tissue in the paraffin block) with little or no tissue degradation. Significant advances in protein and nucleic acid isolation techniques from FFPE tissues have resulted in the generation of sufficient amounts of nucleic acid which can be used in a wide range of analytical techniques for the determination of structure and function of these key biological molecules.

Topic: Laboratory Processing, Topic: Biobanking an..........

CRISPR-Cas9 Off-Target Effects

In our previous blogs on cell therapy solutions, we summarized the CRISPR-Cas (Clustered, Regularly Interspersed, Short Palindromic Repeats) system as a remarkable tool for greatly simplifying gene manipulation (insertions, deletions, development of knock-in and knock-out animal models).  Also described were ways to study epigenetic processes by ‘borrowing’ the Cas9 nuclease from the CRISPR system to pair with histone acetylation domains for induction of acetylation at specific sites.  For instance, one application of this capability could be applied in gene therapy, whereby incorporation of epigenetic changes could achieve gene silencing of abnormally activated genes, or by controlling stem cell differentiation.

Topic: Cell Therapy Solutions, Content: Blog

Top Considerations to Meet FDA Requirements for Packaging Cryogenically Frozen Advanced Therapies

US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements specify that packaging and distribution systems must protect the agent from contamination and damage. In distributing cryogenically frozen advanced therapies, this includes protection from temperature shock.

Topic: Cell Therapy Solutions, Content: Blog

Some Steps Toward Fit-For-Purpose, Future-Proof Specimens

We spill a good bit of virtual ink in our blogs and eBooks discussing biospecimen integrity, but the emerging term that is being used more and more often, is “fit–for-purpose.” Identifying a sample as fit-for-purpose implies molecular integrity, but goes beyond this to encompass all the variables that make a biological sample useful for research. Sample integrity focuses on the quality of individual samples, while the term fit-for-purpose can be interpreted as addressing entire collections.

Topic: Biobanking and Biorepository, Topic: Labora..........

The Evolution of Public Health Research: The Next Frontier

In the first episode of our series, we looked at the cholera epidemic and how public health emerged as a corollary to the germ theory of disease. In this final episode, we arrive at what may be the next frontier in public health research, and once again we are chasing microbes.

Topic: Public Health Research, Content: Blog

Biospecimen-Based Research and the 21st Century Cures Act

“God Willing, This Bill Will Save Lives.” So said Vice President Joe Biden, in sharing his thoughts on the potential ramifications of the passing of the 21st Century Cures Act (H.R.6), made possible by the bipartisan leadership of Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and the House on December 13th 2016.

Topic: Public Health Research, Topic: Cell Therapy..........

Controlling Preanalytical Variability in Biospecimen Collections

Large, well-designed population studies and the interrelationships they reveal are the backbone of public health and serve as a foundation for medical research. The health and lifestyle information of participants, collected via questionnaire and linked to their biospecimen samples, allow investigators to examine the intricate relationships between genetics, physiology, behavior, environment, and disease.

Topic: Public Health Research, Content: eBook

Gut Bacteria Rivals Immunotherapies in Cancer Treatment

The human gut contains more than 100 trillion bacteria from perhaps 500 or more different species. In fact, gut bacteria outnumber the cells in the human body. The vast number of these bacteria has caused researchers to take a closer look at how they are related to health and disease. Now, breaking scientific research suggests that gut bacteria may be more important than anyone previously realized: they appear to be effective cancer treatments.

Topic: Cell Therapy Solutions, Content: Blog, Topi..........

The Link Between Epigenetics and CRISPR-Cas9

When it was first released in 2012, the CRISPR-Cas system stunned scientists with its potential for revolutionizing biological research. Researchers initially noticed that bacterial genomes often contain “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats,” now dubbed CRISPR sequences. When scientists provide the Cas enzyme with a guide RNA sequence, they can tell it precisely where to slice the DNA. This allows unprecedented control over DNA slicing and insertion of new genetic code.

Topic: Cell Therapy Solutions, Topic: Laboratory P..........

The Microbiome of the Skin and Beyond: The MoBE

Our skin is not only our largest organ, and the surface through which we experience the world, it is also a complex ecosystem in its own right. Grice et al (2008)1 estimated that more than a million micro-organisms of more than a hundred distinct species reside on a square centimeter of skin. The recent research into the microbiome of the skin shows that we have not only a great diversity of microorganisms in our skin microbiome, but also a high degree of variation from individual to individual. And although research into the interactions between the skin microbiome and dermal and other disorders is fairly new, it has become clear that the more diverse the microbiome, the healthier the skin.

Topic: Biobanking and Biorepository, Topic: Labora..........

CRISPR-Cas9 is Revolutionizing Gene Editing

CRISPR-Cas is a gene editing technology that is revolutionizing the biotech industry. In 2012, two researchers were performing basic research when they inadvertently discovered a gene editing technology that forever changes how scientists edit genes.

Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna were trying to gain a better understanding of the system that bacteria use to defend themselves against viruses. The researchers noticed that bacterial systems could slice out specific sections of DNA with incredible precision. The team then realized that, with the correct programming, the system could also replace a specific section with new DNA – in essence, the bacteria were performing gene editing on their own DNA in a better way than scientists were doing it in the laboratories.

Topic: Laboratory Processing, Topic: Cell Therapy ..........

Avoiding Hemolysis in Blood Sample Collection and Processing

Depending on your point of view, red blood cells, or erythrocytes, are throwaways and a nuisance, ruining a good blood specimen if the cells burst and contaminate the sample. On the other hand, erythrocytes have significant value in specific types of research, and if your objective is biobanking these cells in an intact state, then hemolysis and the need for a re-draw is equally as much to be avoided.

Erythrocyte cell membranes rupture easily, releasing hemoglobin and flooding the sample with potassium and other internal components. Fortunately, breakage of erythrocytes is easy to detect, as the hemoglobin turns the serum or plasma sample from pink to red, depending on the number of cells that have lysed.

Hemolysis is a primary driver of the need for re-draw, resulting in wasted time and resources. How can hemolysis be prevented?

Topic: Biobanking and Biorepository, Topic: Labora..........